Why die in Punta Cana when I can live in Las Terranas?
You and I both know how the media is trashing the Dominican Republic at the moment. That’s what they do, right? And it is fine because we all like a bit of drama in our lives. The dramatic headings, the number of deaths abroad and undergoing FBI investigations make us forget that it is actually right where we live that, it is not safe.
Before we get started, let's put things into perspective with a little city to city comparison in terms of safety (aka number of people killed). London is less safe than the city of Lagos in Nigeria. Can you imagine that? Here is even more surprising... St. Louis in United States is less safe than Port au Price in Haiti. And Detroit is less safe than Bagdad in Irak! All of the above mentioned included armed violence.
However, the majority of the recent headlines about the deaths happening in the DR are linked counterfeit alcohol as reported by several newspapers. Also, it might not be the only explanation As CNN published that several people got sick while vacationing in the DR after smelling a chemical odor in their hotel rooms.
Despite the headlines, the most visited island of the Caribbean (the Dominican Republic, for those not following) hasn't become more dangerous. Actually, it was reported by a State Department official that "Fewer Americans are dying in the resort country than in previous years” despite the uptick in tourists visiting the country.
Confused? I would be too. In the end, it is always the people closest occurrence of these “dramatic” events that know best. So let us, the expats living in the DR, tell you how we deal with this alarming crisis.
We don’t loose our spirits! Well kind of… We drink fresh beer (instead of strong spirits) at one of the many local shacks, sitting right on the beach and looking at the turquoise water, barefoot. Can you imagine? It is though to be an expat in the DR during this time of crisis.
But more seriously, not much has changed really for us down here. Expect maybe one thing…
We abandoned Punta Cana, we abandoned the All-inclusives. And between, you and me, been there, done that in some other islands, and as for someone living in the Dominican Republic for some time, that is not the lifestyle nor the experience that most of us are looking for anymore. Instead of the problem, the braves ones saw the opportunity. And guess what? I took it. Happy to have done it! So bare with me and let me tell you about more MY NEW LIFE in the a paradisiac beach town in the North of the Dominican Republic.
The question that started it all is the following:
WHY SHOULD I DIE IN PUNTA CANA
WHEN I CAN LIVE (MY BEST LIFE EVER!) IN LAS TERRENAS?
FYI, Las Terrenas is located Samana Peninsula on the Northeastern coast of the DR. It’s about 4 hours drive from Punta Cana and 2h30 from the capital city, Santo Domingo. Once a fishermen village, it is now a charming beach town often called the “colorful town” by the locals and the new Saint-Tropez (fancy French town) by the expats all around the DR.
It is famous (and loved) for its endless sandy beaches, its scenic landscapes, the authenticity of its people, clear turquoise waters, and… Well the list is long (and below). Discover more about Las Terrenas here.
Ah… And one small detail I’d like to add, the beaches here are amazing! Virgin in their true sense. My favorite thing is that there are much less people as opposed to Punta Cana. Here you can really enjoy the beach. Indeed, most of the week, you feel like you own the beach. As somebody who travelled, this feeling has become pretty rare and priceless.
USEFUL RESOURCES FOR YOUR JOURNEY
4 - A more affordable lifestyle. In the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic is one of the least expensive destinations to live in. And compared to Punta Cana, the cost of living in Las Terrenas is even lower. That is another reason why it makes the Dominican Republic and our little beach town a great place to live or retire!
With a monthly budget of US$1,000 to US$1,500 for a couple, you will be able to live very comfortably. I do most of my shopping at the local vendors and 20 US dollars is all I need for a week of veggies. And we eat a lot of veggies! You can rent a 2-bedroom condo steps from the beach for US$500 per month. When you want to eat out, there a plenty of great restaurants in Las Terrenas. And the fish doesn't get any more fresher than when they serve the catch of the day brought by the local fishermen. Find out more about the cost of living in Las Terrenas here.
5 - Don’t worry, be happy! In general, not many of those living in the Caribbean islands are in a “state of" rush. Slow Down and take it easy is a life lesson that I got to truly learn since I moved to Las Terrenas. Comparatively, Punta Cana is much busier, and it makes sense. They are much more tourists than here, with many of the local people living from that crazy tourism industry. This brings more animation and movement, more cars, more buildings, etc.
In Las Terrenas, it is a completely different rhythm and atmosphere. I would say it is because the town is smaller, it has a more human scale if you will, at least to my taste. So, if you feel like you might as well take a step back and chill a bit, then Las Terrenas just became an option for you. Here, the famous “Island time” does exists.
6 - The Diversity. The intercultural mixture. As many of you know, the Dominican culture is very different from the European and American ones. That being said, Las Terrenas has always had a large expat community (mostly made of French and Italians) bringing their own ways and habits into the mix. In the more recent years, the town has seen more Americans and Canadians buying homes in Las Terrenas.
Actually, if you pay attention while you are in Las Terrenas, you find some kind of peaceful coexistence between all these cultures. And it is truly beautiful and charming. After years of cohabitations and exchange, the people have created something very unique melting pot that cannot be found in many place of the world.
For example, from the Westerners I can think of the quality of homes. Building methods are based on European standards. Home are well thought, construction is solid, double glazed windows, AC in every bedrooms, etc. Also, there are many international products available for purchase thanks to the expat who started importing products from their home country. But at the same time, many services are very affordable, help for the garden, at home, for delivering stuff or moving around, these are all very cheap.
So, once you know your way around it, you can get the best of both worlds. And trust me, it is very comfortable and hardly beatable.
7 - No more transit! In Las Terrenas there is no traffic light! Yes, you can drive without stopping every 2 minutes. Some locals don’t even own a car. Everything is close, so you can easily walk to the beach and to the village in a few minutes. But if you get lazy, no problem there’s always a “motoconcho” very happy to pick you up in any corner of the street and take you wherever you need for 1-2$.
8 - Live and grow right. Remember when you were kid and didn’t have social media and just wanted to run, play and build sand castles? Give your kids the childhood you always dreamt of; activities on the beach, sport and constant connection with the surrounding nature. PS: There are good schools in Las Terrenas; one of them is bilingual Spanish-English and the other French-Spanish, both with excellent teachers.
9 - Access all beaches. There are no privatized beaches like in Punta Cana where you need to pay 20$ to access it. Everyday is a perfect day to discover a new beach. PS: the second and third best beaches in the DR are a 30 minutes ride away from Las Terrenas (Playa Rincon and Cayo Levantado). Also, “Playa Bonita” was elected one of the top 10 beaches in the world by National Geographic. Once you step foot on one of the tranquil beaches this town has to offer, or in the village’s colorful beach bars, it is no doubt you will fall in love with Las Terrenas. I know I have! You’ll discover here the top beaches in and around Las Terrenas.
10 - The Safety. Las Terrenas feels like the safest place in the entire Dominican Republic, and beyond. You can leave your doors open and not worry at all. Even the restaurants leave their chairs and tables without securing them. You can walk at night without worrying about getting robbed. Your kids can run free in the streets and on the beach. I don’t know why nor when all this bashing from the media is going to stop, but what I do know is that life here, in Las Terrenas, is safer than most (99%) of the cities I’ve been to and lived in. Freedom and safety never felt better.
To sum up: I now live in a beach town where life is great. And I wish you the same!